After 22 years working for Redmond School District and seven years as its superintendent, Mike McIntosh says he plans to retire after the 2019-20 school year.
The 56-year-old McIntosh said he’s leaving to spend more time with his family and horses at his Terrebonne farm. He believes it’s time for Redmond to have fresh leadership.
“There comes a point and time that you’ve done the things that you know how to do, and it’s time for someone else to take the reins and do what they know how to do,” he said. “I think this has been a successful run, but I know … you can’t do it forever.”
McIntosh, who moved to Redmond when he was 5 and graduated from Redmond High School in 1982, called the experience of leading his hometown school district “a little surreal.”
“I don’t think it’s common that the local kid comes home to be the superintendent,” he said. “I wouldn’t have predicted or written the script that way, but looking back seven years later, I wouldn’t have written it any other way.”
After teaching and serving as a middle school vice principal in La Grande and Madras from 1988 to 1997, McIntosh began an eight-year tenure at Redmond’s M.A. Lynch Elementary in the fall of 1997. It was the same elementary school he attended as a youth, creating class projects and watching the failed Apollo 13 moon mission.
McIntosh served as the principal at Hartman/Elton Gregory Middle School — it changed names and locations partway through his time there — and Terrebonne Community School before becoming the school district’s director of operations in 2010.
He became the school district’s interim superintendent in July 2012 after former superintendent Shay Mikalson left to become Bend-La Pine Schools’ executive director of curriculum and instructional technology. Mikalson is Bend-La Pine’s superintendent. In September 2012, the Redmond School Board named McIntosh the full-time superintendent. He currently earns about $172,000 annually.
During McIntosh’s time as superintendent, Redmond — Oregon’s 17th-largest school district and the third-largest outside the Willamette Valley — has grown by about 500 students. Four-year graduation rates have risen in Redmond during his tenure, from about 48% for the class of 2013 to about 83% for the class of 2018. However, the 2013 graduation rate is skewed, as the state did not yet count students who had received modified diplomas or those who had earned diplomas but hadn’t yet received them because they were returning for a fifth year of high school for college credits.
One thing McIntosh said he was proud of is the increased success for groups of students with economic or social difficulties. He referenced the recent success of Latino students in Redmond, whose graduation rate has risen from 68% to 81% in the past five years.
“We’re just creating an equal playing field for families and students,” he said.
One of the biggest disappointments McIntosh had with his tenure was the failure of a $70 million bond measure in 2018. The bond, which would’ve rebuilt the aging Lynch Elementary along with other safety upgrades, missed approval by only 1.7 percentage points.
“That still is a struggle for me to accept, because I think we clearly have needs to our school system,” he said.
Redmond’s school board chairman, Tim Carpenter, said McIntosh “set the bar” for future superintendents. He specifically praised McIntosh’s connection with the people of Redmond.
“He’s great with the community, a big people person,” he said. “I hear all sorts of positives in the community from people who’ve dealt with Mike and are very pleased with the job he’s done.”
Redmond School District administrators and school board members are beginning the process of replacing McIntosh with an in-house candidate or someone from outside the district. At the school board’s Wednesday night meeting, Carpenter said a search for candidates will likely begin in the fall, and a superintendent could be named by late February of 2020.
McIntosh said he hopes his successor is someone who lives in Redmond and adores the community and its schools.
“They have to understand Redmond, love Redmond, be loyal to it, because this is a community that’s pretty unique in its size,” he said. “We’re big enough to be significant and small enough to be personal, and I want the new superintendent to understand that dynamic.”
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